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tv   Memorial Service for James Brady  CSPAN  October 10, 2014 9:00pm-10:31pm EDT

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personal hero? mine was jim brady. one was a personal connection. anyone with any objective research would find that we were the last of the press secretaries who shared the hollywood good looks and fashion sense that very often you see in he movies. the rest, not so much. but seriously. he is a hero not because of what happened to him. people face tragedy in their lives in every family across the country. he is a hero because of what he did with it. we live in a very partisan and difficult town right now. it is hard to believe that we can find common ground on issues that aren't that hard. much less ones like gun safety. but jim and sarah got things done and we shouldn't forget that. the second question i get and have gotten quite often is,
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what was your favorite day at the white house? the day we renamed the press briefing room the jim brady white house briefing room. it was my favorite day. it honored jim and i think it brought great joy to jim, sarah and the family. probably just as important for me, it honor his legacy forever. whoever the president is or the press secretary is, where ever they stand on issues, when they say something it will be recorded as being said in the james s brady white house briefing room. that is an important acknowledgment. we are going to hear from a lot of people. we will start professionally and -- in washington with a couple of people jim worked with in the reagan white house. sheila tate will speak next, she was nancy reagan's press secretary, many of you know her.
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she has a special message she wants to share. and jim brought along mark wineberg who will share some of his experiences in the white house. sheila? >> good morning, everybody. trying to figure out where to put my water without spilling it. you know, i think like a lot of us, particularly from the reagan days, we're not as active as we used to be. neither is nancy reagan. but she dearly wanted to have at
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least something to say today. so she wrote to sarah. really a moving remembrance of all the memories that she had. and she shared this all with sarah and then ultimately "time" magazine. i'm honored to share them with you today. she said, ronnie and i could tell there was something special about jim brady from the moment we met him. he had a certain twinkle in his eye and a way of letting you know that he knew what he was doing and everything would be all right. he had a zest for life that was infectious. he love to hear and tell a good story, as we all know. he laughed easily and could see the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. he made the best chili in town. when was time to be serious, jim was serious and often in a
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three-piece suit with a notebook and pencil in hand, jim was at ronnie's side, listening intently, brow furrowed in concentration, taking detailed notice so he could brief the press on whatever had ranspired. when jim gave advice, ronnie and i listened because we knew he had the best instincts in town. it broke ronnie's heart and my heart the jim and sarah were forced to face such a diversity -- such add versity after he was so -- such adversity after he was so seriously wounded during the 1981 assassination attempt, but they never complained. jim was a patriot. he loved his country and was proud to serve. ronnie insisted that jim remain his press secretary for eight years because it was the right thing to do and the white house didn't seem complete without him. he and sarah became dear
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friends. i miss jim and pray for sarah. as do we all. if i may indulge myself with a few personal comments, i am, after all, up here to do the warmup for mark wineberg. -- wineberg. it seems strange to be back here in my hometown, i now live in charlottesville, virginia, very happily, and i don't get back here as much as i used to. i knew it was time to retire when i went to a big press event at the willard hotel and art buchwald hit on me. it's true. [laughter] his ardor cooled after i asked -- answered his question in the
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negative, what was do you have a car and driver? he had an ulterior motive. since jim brady died, the reagan communications team has been in frequent touch as you can imagine, reminiscing about the bear. for all of us who worked with jim during the campaign and in the white house, he was always this huge looming presence. i suspect he will always be a owerful influence on us. one of oh -- of the early reaganites, carol mccain, was planning on being here today but she had a minor medical emergency. she told me a story and gave me permission to tell et. during the 1980 campaign, a group, they were in tampa, florida, at a hoe tale called the old clumba -- columbia restaurant. she struck up a conversation with the waiter about the wine
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list and he offered to show her the wine cellar. off she went, halfway down the hall he opened the closet, shoved her in, and went in after her and went for the kiss. im saw what was happening. he rushed down the hall and rip the door opened and through the waiter side of and saved the damsel in distress. but this is the wonderful part. every time he saw her after that, whenever he saw her, he said to her, have you been in any good wine cellars lately? [laughter] that was so jim. it was just one demonstration of what we all knew. he always had our backs, he always helped us. if there was anything, if there was a fight we needed to win in the white house, jim was there for you. for are for me his death brought back the personal anger i felt from the assassination attempt.
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when sarah asked me to speak, i wondered what to say about that anger and it's an anger that many of us from the reagan days carry with us. that got me thinking about this fellow with the gun. that pathetic guy that thought that the perfect way to impress jodie foster was to try to shoot the president. and then i realized, while i was thinking of it, i couldn't remember his first name. and it was -- i can't tell you the sense of release i felt that i didn't hate him anymore, he just didn't matter to me. he's inconsequential. ronald reagan found it in his heart to forgive him. nancy, not so much. me, i'm sort of with nancy on that. but i think there are a lot of reagan people who feel that way
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as well. we prefer to give thanks to god for the survival of our resident and officer tom delahnte, and we're especially grateful to god for the neurosurgical excellence of jim's doctor and the superb staff at g.w. hospital. i don't know if everyone has heard the story about when the mistaken announcement that jim had not survived, his classic response, he said, hmm, no one told me, or the patient. it's hard to think of a world that still turns without jim brady. in the belief that he is up there listening and probably critiquing our remarks, one last request from me, say hello to
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tony snow for us, and from me a big, special high five with jody powell. two thumbs up for jimbo. thank you. [applause] >> sweet podium. now, look, i realize that this is not the signing of health care reform, but this is a big deal. to paraphrase a great man. mr. vice president, sarah, members of the brady family, reverend, colleagues, and
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friends, it's an honor to be at this podium today to speak about my boss, mentor, teacher and friend jim brady. thank you, sarah, for the privilege of representing the brady bunch. now often when people speak of those who have passed on, history is re-created. sharp edges are softened. reality is replaced by farm, fuzzy image, kind of like a reagan campaign commercial. but in the case of jim brady, no truth need be stretched, no scrubbing need be done, no revisionism is required to present an absolutely honest picture of an extraordinary man whose goodness, intelligence, sense of humor, courage and love of life touched us all. let me tell you about my journey with jim brady. i was 22 years old with my own typewriter, a banquet table for
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a desk in a rented metal folding chair writing press releases when i first crossed paths with jim. a few weeks after i started there, jim was hired as the press secretary. after the routine introduction, the first word jim said to me as my new boss in the connolly campaign was, houdini. houdini. confused? o was i. i had just written what i thought was a routine press release about a connolly campaign event in lord knows where, and put it on jim's desk. i expected he would come out and say it was ok and then i would issue it. but no. he came to my table/desk and handed me the release and said, houdini. i said i don't understand. he smiled and said it again. houdini.
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your draft says connolly will appear at the campaign event. will, he will, jim. no, magicians appear, then poof, disappear. he's not houdini. he's a candidate for the presidency of the united states. they campaign or speak. my first of many lessons from jim brady. now, he was a great boss but sometimes he scared me. does anybody remember that topless, doorless jeep he used to run around in in arlington? he came to get me one saturday afternoon in crystal city. i did not want to get in. i was convinced at the first bump, that was it. but he was my boss, so in i got. so fast forward. connolly out, reagan in. jim is on the reagan campaign and got me hired by the reagan press secretary to travel on the plane. reagan wins, jim is appointed chief spokesman for the office of the president elect.
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i'm there, working for jim again, writing press releases about cabinet appointments, senior white house staff, etc. no one appeared in those. the most vivid image was when we we would be in jim's office and get daily, sometimes hourly, reports from pacific palisades of who, other than jim, was being considered for the position of press secretary. those weren't easy days for him. as the days toward inauguration tipped down to a precious few with no from you know who, jim reluctantly, briefly considered an invitation to be the state department spokeman. jim, sarah, and i were having dinner after work and he asked me if i wanted to come work for him at state. state? i asked. yeah, state, jim said. i gulped. well, maybe but i'm not realy sure i'm a foreign policy guy, jim. i said, with the greatest of
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hesitation. sarah could see where my head was and bless your heart, you said to jim, jim, leave him alone. mark wants to go to the white house. to which jim said, good for him. o did i. long silence. but a few days later, jim got the job and the rest is history. to tell the truth, none of us who worked for jim would be a -- thought he would be a great press secretary without hiring a great staff. jim knew himself well enough he, knew from an organizational standpoint he might come up a little bit short. one look at that desk would prove it. it was always covered in multiple players of paper. you could never see wood. if he had a system it was among the greatest kept secrets in modern political history. no one knew where anything was, except jim, because much of the
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time it was all in his head. that is why he hired larry speaks to run the office. and others to do logistics and administrative matters. because jim knew his role was to be an advisor to the president and his spokesman and no one was better at either. speaking of larry, we lost him too earlier this year. and i wouldn't be surprised if he and jim aren't up there right now in heaven's version of who's corner, jim curled up with a green hornet, a heineken, and larry listening to an elvis c.d. who can forget, much as some might like to, jim's white house bress -- press briefings. they were usually scheduled for noon. but that became 1:00, then 2:00, then 3:00. the staff, those who worked for him we would gather in his office
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and 11:30 a.m. every day. we would have our answers all prepared. as always, we wound up waiting for jim. we were afraid to leave. we never knew when he was going to come. inevitably, he was with the president. when he showed up, he raced into the office and we all turned into whirling dervishes, jim, jim, i have this, but he paid no attention to us all. he sat at his desk, writing in his notebook, he would stand up, swoop up some papers and head to the briefing roosm we scrambled to follow him, they bearly had time to announce the briefing was about to begin and jim was at the podium. but gosh darn it if he didn't nail every briefing. it was almost as if he could read reporters' minds in terms of what they would ask and he always had the perfect answer. t was uncanny. jim was more than a boss to e.
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he had a paternal side to him that made my parents very happy and grateful. he sometimes called me mark-mark. he always seemed worried about my social life, which was not robust back then. jim taught me many things. no lesson was more important than to love life. that he did purely by example he loved his family, his friends, reporters, poll techs, cooking, and eating. the class reunion, nathan's on saturdays. they all lit up when jim brady was there. he knew who he was and he was happy. and he was not afraid to laugh at himself. there was nothing vain about jim brady. when people asked about his figure, his answer was the same. when i get an urge to exercise, lay down until it passes.
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jim was real. no airs, no acts. when he was asked whether he was angry about the events of march 30, he did not make up a politically correct fake stuff about moving on. forgiveness. blah, blah, blah. he told the truth. he said yes. he was angry. but the important thing is, jim was not bitter. and there is a profound difference between anger and itterness. bitterness can be an obsessive and ultimately self-destructive emotion while anger can lead to action. that is what happened with sarah and jim. their anger motivated them to do something really important and great with their lives for which this country is better. in closing, let me remind you that jim brady was able to fully perform the duties of white house press secretary for a mere 70 days.
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he served in the role for all eight years of the reagan administration because ronald and nancy reagan were unwavering in their loyalty to him. but truth to tell we were blessed whiz his leadership for only 70 days. that's not a long time. even a president gets 100 days to make the start. yet short as it was, jim brady's tenure as press secretary was as impactful, important, and inspiring as any any history. indeed, ronald reagan said it best, of course, in 1982, and i quote. "jim brady was a major force in shaping the administration in its early stages, now everybody knows the devment of his courage. jim's close friends, and i count myself among them, always knew this strength of character." that was 32 years ago and i
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think all of us would agree that it's every bit as true today as it was then. thank you. [applause] ♪
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[applause] >> i'm mike mccurry. i'm one of the successors to jim brady as presidential press secretary, or as we like to refer to ourselves the human pinatas for the white house press corps. jim brady was a great role model for all press secretaries and knew when to growl leek a bear at the press when he had to, but he also understood the value of a more human, kinder, gentler
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touch. we should remind ourselves today that the relationship between the white house and the press corps which covers it must always be an adversarial one, committed to conveying truthful information to the american people, but jim brady proved that this necessarily adversarial relationship can always be an amicable one. in a moment i'll call up four distinguished journalists who can speak to that but first let me read an important letter we eceived for this occasion. " i wish i could be there to celebrate jim's courageous life of service. jim was blessed with a unique combination of wit, intelligence, tenacity that made him an effective and often entertaining white house press secretary. perhaps there is no greater testament to his abilities or to the mutual respect he shared with journalists than his successful effort to convince the white house press corps to abandon tradition and begin
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raising their hands when they wanted to ask a question. when an assassin's bullet changed everything at the pinnacle of his career, he could've lived out the rest of his life in private regret. instead, he chose to publicly embrace what he could still accomplish with his mind and heart. he transformed his personal tragedy into an opportunity to save lives. he taught us the true meaning of perseverance and showed that although much can be taken from us, we can always keep giving. he did it with a level of grace and honor that most of us with far fewer obstacles in our way never achieved. it is one of the great honors of my life that i had the opportunity to sign the brady bill into law in 1983, after jim -- sarah fought so hard 1993, after jim and sarah fought so hard for more than six years
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to help pass it. the background checks mandated by the law who stopped or than 2 million gun purchases by felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and stalkers. our families and children are safer because of jim's efforts. hillary, chelsea, and i join with you to pay tribute to a remarkable man and inspiring leader and a true friend. may god bless you all, president bill clinton. [applause] now let me introduce four outstanding journalists who knew and jousted with jim brady and lived to tell about it. hey are andrea mitchell from nbc news and msnbc anchor, bill plant, senior white house correspondent to cbs news, al hunt, columnist for "bloomberg view" and al's best half, judy
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woodruff, co-anchor of "pbs news hour." [applause] >> thank you. ood morning. mr. vice president, sarah, scott and missy, reverend clergy, friends and colleagues, jim brady was a national reasure. at the peak of his life and pinnacle of his career, he was struck down by an assassin's bullet but nothing should shatter his spirit, silence that trademark sense of humor or wit, or halt his unstoppable passion to make the world a better and safer place. the man we knew as the bear was
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irreverent to a fault. yes, we all remember killer trees. just one example how he could get himself in trouble on the campaign trail. he was truly one of life's originals. funny, honest, and true. i know ewon't get any arguments from the press secretaries, the successors, those here and those not, when i describe him as the most honest, straight talking, even fearless and best-liked white house press secretary ever. and most effective. it was an accolade he earned despite the fact that he was struck down after only a few months on the job full time. it was a trust he'd earned in every job he'd held before that and certainly indelibly forged by the way he served the candidate ronald reagan, the press corps, and indeed the public during the 1980 campaign.
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and that was only the beginning. jim was a fighter, never more so than when he was fighting for the cause of his and sarah's life. as sarah wrote in her book, "the good fight," the bear named brady was the brightest, funniest man she'd ever met. clearly he was also the most determined. their fight for handgun controls was initially inspired not by jim's injury, but by an incident that occurred four years later when scott was only 6 years old. they were visiting his hometown, jim's hometown in illinois and scott picked up what he thought was a toy gun. so did sarah. they were visiting friends. the gun that scott had unwittingly started playing with was not a toy. it was a saturday night special. similar to the one that had been used against jim. sarah's fear and her shock at how close her precious child had come to a terrible injury turned
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into anger. anger turned into resolve. out of that came the campaign. a movement and a cause. by then, i was covering congress. i remember so well seeing them together, they were always together, of course. what a love story, sarah and im, wheeling down the marble corridors. jim did not sugar coat his arguments when he was testifying against the gun lob be's objections. the n. -- lobby's objections. the n.r.a. said a five-day waiting period would inconvenience law-abiding citizens. jim told congress, i need help getting out of bed. help taking a shower. help getting dressed. and damn it, i need help going to the bathroom. i guess i'm paying for their inconvenience. i remember the day when ronald
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reagan, a lifetime n.r.a. member, endorsed the brady law. jim said, they're not going to accuse him of being some bedwetting liberal. and i will never forget witnessing the oval office ceremony in 1993 when president clinton signed the bill into law. jim said, how sweet it is, how long it took. jim and sarah did not rest with that achievement. after virginia tech they fought to close loopholes. after newtown they called for new restrictions. and on his last visit to the white house to see president obama, jim was wearing a bracelet in honor of gabbie giffords. jim brady will be remembered forever in the briefing room that bears his name. scott and missy, your dad was valiant. he was courageous. he was a true hero. he was a eagan wrote,
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patriot. he served his nation with honor and his spirit lives -- lives on in those who fight against gun violence. thank you, jim brady. [applause] >> good morning. celebrate, you bet. that is exactly what i did when i heard that jim brady was coming to the reagan campaign, because i had known him in chicago. and we had a good time there too. it was a real treat to get the new deputy press secretary in
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march of 1980. john connolly's campaign had just collapsed. he'd spent $11 million and gotten one delegate system of jim brady, who was known already as the bear, after winnie the pooh, came toray began's campaign. ow he brought with him his wonderfully extroverted personality. there was nobody in politics quite like him. and he brought with him not only the personality, but an enormous store of information, the gift of irish gab, and a fearlessly sharp wit. these are pretty dangerous traits for a press secretary, even more dangerous for his principal. ut they were catnip to us. brady referred irreverently to his bosses and even to the
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candidate. who he called the o.w., the oldest and wisest. that was when off the cuff humor was safer. there was no social media to speed it along to everybody. but brady had been around for -- had brady been around during twitter, god only knows what might have happened. he was always ready with a quip and a quote. it seemed to be right off the top of his head but it always fit perfectly. somehow jim not only managed to serve his candidate well, but also to satisfy those of us on he other side. not that his irrepressability didn't occasionally land him in hot water. we all kept track of governor reagan's penchant for sometimes
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fanciful rhetoric, including his repeated claim that trees and regation were responsible for more pollution than automobiles. so one fine autumn day as the campaign plane was descending for a landing somewhere in mid south, speech writer ken looked out the window and he saw smoke ising from the forest below. killer trees, he said quietly. brady loved it. he bounced back to let all of us know in a loud voice, look, look, killer trees. mrs. reagan was not amused. when she saw this reported. nor was campaign chair bail casey who didn't have much of a sense of humor in any case system of jim was thrown off the plane for about three days. he returned, unrepen tant, with the same zest -- unrepent tant
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with the same zest for his job and life in general. jim loved good food and goodwin. -- and good wine. we ate and drank our way through the primary, the convention, and the fall campaign. i have the expense account records to show for it. i went back and looked at them. t was wonderful. he loved to eat and he loved to cook. you heard about his chili. he was enormously proud of the chili, won first prize in the chili cookoff. after ronald reagan won the election, jim really wanted to be press secretary, but as you've heard, the transition eam took their time. he was, after all, an outsider. and he was perceived as more moderate than the california conservatives, uh-oh.
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brady joked at one point that so much time had elapsed that lunches with him during the transition were no longer tax deductible. then the was the narrative that suggest that nancy reagan thought that he was not good looking enough to be your -- to be her husband's spokesman. at one point, he came out to begin his daily briefing saying i come before you today as not just another pretty face but out of sheer talent. [laughter] and when he did get the job, his knowledge of the way washington with was an enormous plus the california crowd. even better, the president loved brady's style. he gained access, the kind of access to a president that press secretaries need. those were the good times, those 10 weeks before the shooting. he was at the top of his game
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and he loved every minute. but here's the really important thing. after his injury, after the moments of up and down, months of up and down, before he left the hospital, jim brady was still someone who could laugh, who had the same sharp wit, and who, despite his own pain, still cared about his friends. the real measure of a person is in the way he or she deals with adversity. jim brady was a champion. he showed the rest of us the kind of courage that we didn't now existed. in a 1966 interview, i asked him if he was still bitter.
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he paused. well, he said, it's not classy to be bitter. and i try to be classy, as you know. is it very much of an effort, i asked. he answered, yes. but he made that effort aliantly for 33 years. stu spencer put it this way the other day. jim brady he, said, was a keeper. and that is what i hope will sustain and comfort sarah and scott and missy. thank you. [applause]
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>> mr. vice president, sarah and friends of jim brady, i first met jim several years before the white house. he was the press secretary for senator bill roth. senator roth was one of those old school moderate conservative republicans, an honorable man. he was the quiet senator from delaware. [laughter] he seemingly wore a hair priest, which was one area where jim brady would provide no assistance. bill roth was the co-sponsor in 1978 of a huge across the board tax cut that magically was going to raise gobs of new revenue. it was a pretty nutty notion, voodoo economics as george r.w.
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bush later called it. the other cosponsor was jack kemp. the most dynamic member of congress. in thes was instrumental campaigns, it was the kemp-roth bill. it should've been the kemp-roth-brady bill. our next encounter was when he was campaign manager for john connolly. he was a larger than -- john connolly was a larger than life texan, overpowering, a man who believed in exercising top-down power. i wret a front page article which he intensely disliked. he summoned his press secretary and said, get him fired. go to the ceo and get him fired. he inquired a few days later, and jim told him, governor, you
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know those press bass cards all -- bastards all stick together, i got nowhere. onnolly replied, those sons of bitches. jim had called no one. in february 1981, judy and i went out to dinner with sarah and jim. i was the walk-on. judy was nbc white house correspondent, that was the professional purpose of the dinner. i covered politics for the journal and i asked a bunch of skeptical questions. finally, jim looked at me and said, connolly was right, i should have gotten your ass fired. another and drank glass of wine. he was always fun. he was a great press secretary, meeting the dual demands of
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loyalty and integrity. it is so fitting that that press briefing room is named after jim. his first 40 years were impressive. his next 33 years even more so. jim was unlucky that march day at the hilton. in the wrong place at the wrong time. but even more important is how lucky he was years earlier when he fell in love with and married sarah kemp. you all were partners throughout. what you accomplished against great odds was remarkable. judy and i have -- and i have a son with a brain injury and we know how challenging and sometimes painfully difficult it can be. in addition to his great character and heart, he always had you, sarah. he couldn't have done it without you. there is much to do -- still left to do in your quest for sensible gun policies in america and it's never going to be easy. but there will be more progress and it will all be built on what
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jim and sarah have accomplished. the jim brady story transcends our age. he was a profile in courage and determination against the odds. we will tell it to our grandchildren, who will tell it to theirs. we were all so lucky to have known the bear. [applause] >> you want me to stand on this? all right. mr. vice president, friends of jim brady, it is wonder to feel see all of you here. i just have to say first to sarah and your extraordinary family, i am so deeply honored, as al is, to have been asked to say a few words about jim.
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it is great to see so many friends of his here. to celebrate his life. i love hearing these stories. i love laughing about jim, the man we knew. my memory of jim dates back to shortly after the election of 1980 when i was the nbc white house correspondent who spent the previous four years covering president jimmy carter system of i hadn't had the opportunity to meet many people on the reagan team. not a good position for the white house correspondent. so nbc quickly flew me out to los angeles, right after the election, i spent weeks out there, worked like mad to try to get to know everybody. how lucky i was to find jim brady. who other reporters already liked and trusted. who even seemed a little simp at the exabout my predicament as a newcomer. jim and i immediately hit it off. i thought i must be somebody special. of course it turned out that
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that's the way he was with every reporter. he teased me all the time about my -- the years i had spent covering the georgia peanut farmer. he teased me about that lingering southern accent i couldn't completely get rid of. and about being with that newly -- being newly married to al hunt. he wondered out loud if i realy knew who this guy was who covered politics for "the wall street journal." i soon met sarah and it was clear they adored each other. they both had a terrific sense of humor. they teased each other nonstop. when we went out to dinner, they came across and al mentioned it, they came across as real people. yes, we laughed a lot. had a few glasses of wine. they had many of the same, very same thoughts, very same words, we did. even though we worked on opposite sides of the political divide in this city. i brought a picture which you
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probably can't see, it's one that i cherish, it hangs in al's study at our home. you know, i'd like to tell you it's in jim's office within a couple of weeks after he came to the white house but there's nothing really on the walls yet, he hadn't had time to decorate it. i would like to tell you he was giving me a big scoop. that wouldn't be the truth. i think he was explaining supply side economics to a georgia peach. it took him a while. but i cherish this and it reminds me of the personal connection that i felt to him and to sarah. and a few weeks later that connection was permanently sealed. but not in the way i ever imagined. because i did join the press pool on the trip to the hilton hotel that day. when jim and president reagan and agent tim mccarthy and
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officer tom delahante were shot. i was standing a few feet away, next to the press van, and about two months pregnant with our first son, jeffrey. i will never forget how jim fought his way back from the brink with sarah's help. in an instant, everything changed. but the twinkle in his eye, the teasing in his voice, that sharp mind we know so well and you've heard about this morning, never, ever left him. whenever we saw jim over the years, and it was often, because he was active. he and sarah both. he wanted to know about that crazy al i married. the reporters who knew ronald reagan better than anybody, luke cannon, told me this week that he is confident that even if jim had never been injured, he said, you know, we'd still be celebrating his life right now. he was that kind of guy. he was always going to make a difference. he was always going to have an
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effect on people. justwo other things. i feel a closer connection to jim and sarah because of our son jeff, who, 17 years after jim was shot, as al said, experienced a different kind of brain injury. sarah and jim were among the very first people to reach out to us and every time we would see them, the first thing they'd ask about was jeffrey. and second, to sarah. when i think about jim's life and the funny, fun-loving couple you were as newly marrieds, i see the seeds of the extraordinary bond that gave you the strength to be there with him for all those years. there are so many unheralded people who give much of themselves to take care of a loved one. you embody the very best of who they are and what they do. jim could not have lived the life he did without you. it is a privilege to know you. thank you. [applause]
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[applause] >> it was great to hear from the journalists about their relationship with jim. one of the advantages to having this many former press secretaries together is, they've agreed to hold a background briefing after, going over some of bill plant's expense reports in detail.
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since there have been allusions to a glass of wine or two, i suspect the documents will prove those to be conservative estimates. everyone has made reference here today about jim and sarah's work when it comes to gun safety and gun violence. our next two speakers are people who have lived in the trenches on this issue over the last two decades and have actually made a difference in a terribly difficult and divisive issue. dan gross is the president of the brady campaign to prevent gun violence, but before that he started the centers to prevent youth violence and has devoted much of his life to this cause. and gail hoffman who many of you know and was central to putting this event together has been at this since the late 1980's with handgun control, was the point person for all of us in the clinton administration to getting the brady bill done at
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the justice department, and i think both of them can reflect on the incredible work and the incredible accomplishments of jim and sarah brady when it comes to making this country safer. >> mr. vice president, sarah, scott, missy, friends and family of jim brady across the country, it is a privilege to be here and it is my privilege to lead the organization that bears jim and sarah brady's name, the brady campaign center to prevent gun violence. it has been my greater honor and privilege to know jim brady, to call him my friend, and in a way even, he was my brother. every single time i saw jim was
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precious to me. either through words of wisdom or a joke or that twinkle that i swear never left his eyes, even after he could no longer see, jim had this way of turning even a brief encounter into a lifetime memory. but as i was preparing these remarks, the one memory that stood out the most was the very last time i saw jim. it was extra special because i brought my two children to meet him for the first time, this man who meant so much to me and had such a profound influence on our life, on my life, on our nation. as we were introducing my kids to jim, sarah who had already met them, told jim that my daughter plays tennis. and then there it was. jim flashed that mischievous grin as he playfully launched into a story about when sarah took up tennis and how she was more concerned with her fancy
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tennis outfits than she was with the sport itself. he did mention how great she looked in said outfit. but the most special moment came as we were saying good-bye, as we were walking out after a long visit, jim had to be tired. jim called out to my daughter and in his slurred speech, he said, good luck with your tennis. those were the last words i ever heard jim brady say and i don't think they could have been more fitting. that was the jim who really cared about you. that was the jim who really cared about all of us. even if he was suffering more than he ever wanted you to know, that was the jim who cared about people. and i believe that is why jim and sarah brady are the embodyment of the gun violence prevention movement, the greatest champions we have ever seen for the safer nation we all want, because jim brady really cared about all of us.
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jim brady really loved this nation. when it comes down to it, i believe there are three things that jim brady's remarkable life tells us about gun violence in america. first, the toll of gun violence. 30,000 americans killed every year, about one million lives lost since jim was shot. the statistics are staggering. but what jim's story really shows us is the impact that just one of those bullets can have. just one. that one bullet took jim's physical strength. it caused profound lifelong health issues. it put his loving wife sarah in the role of a lifelong caregiver. it robbed a brilliant, remarkably popular young press secretary of his career. my brother, too, was shot in the head and survived. and like jim, my brother has flourished remarkably.
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as i said, in a way, jim was my brother. and every year, hundreds of thousands more americans are introduced into our same tragic brotherhood and sisterhood a family no one ever wants to join. all in an instant, all in exactly the same way. one bullet. two. jim's story taught us about the importance of stronger sensible gun laws. jim and sarah showed our nation why we need to require background checks before buying a gun which jim's shooter was never subjected to in that texas gun store and jim and sarah did not stop until they pushed through one of the most important public safety laws in this nation's history, the brady handgun violence prevention act that's stopped over two million gun sales to dangerous people and has prevented countless more from even trying. as we heard, when the corporate gun lobby argued that requiring background checks was too
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inconvenient for gun buyers, jim responded from his wheelchair, i guess i'm paying for their convenience. until the end, he fought to finish the job and require brady background checks on all gun sales and sarah third and most importantly, jim brady teaches us about the strength of the human spirit. how victims can not only survive but thrive. how each of us can make a difference and how anyone of us truly can change this country and the world. i believe that jim and sarah brady have saved more lives than almost any citizens in our nations's history, and that is not hyperbole. there are literally millions of americans who will never notice suffering of gun violence because of jim brady, and he did it without the trappings of power or wealth, a man that
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suffered a great injustice, who was robbed of so much, but refuse to be paralyzed by bitterness or hopelessness. jim brady was a great man and a good man who changed the world in profound and extraordinary ways. there will never be another jim brady. but that must not stop us from carrying on the fight that was so important to him. jim, we will follow in your example. thank you, jim brady. god bless you. and as he would want me to finish, thumbs up. [applause] >> first i want to thank joe lockhart for all the work he has done to make this event, celebrating jim's life, so very special.
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and thank you all for joining in this wonderful sendoff for the bear. it was a tremendous privilege for me to work with and become so close to jim. for many years, the bradys have been like family to me. it is also a tremendous privilege for me to introduce our next speaker who jim adored. vice president biden and jim brady enjoyed a very long history together. before jim was white house press secretary, he served as an aide to senator bill roth of delaware, back when joe biden was senator biden. neither could know then how much they would subsequently do together to alter the course of history and ultimately saved so many lives by getting the brady bill passed. during the effort to pass the brady bill, we relied heavily on senator biden, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, to help shepherd the bill
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through the senate. he was always there for us, as was his tremendously dedicated staff. we were in constant communication and we knew that joe biden always had our back. later, when jim and sarah moved to rehobeth beach, delaware, they became constituents of senator biden and the strong bond between the bradys and the bidens endured. the bear and the vice president have a lot in common. speaking truths and telling it like it is. when jim first testified before the senate judiciary committee in 1989, he not only talked about what it was like to be in his wheels, but he said there were too many cowardly lion's walking the halls of congress. you bet there were. our next speaker was never one of them. in fact, he was and is a
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courageous public servant dedicated to the cause of making us all safer and doing what is right. vice president biden has been there for jim and sarah from the very beginning and immediately after we lost our bear, vice president biden was there within the hour for sarah with an outpouring of love, and as always, offering to do anything and everything he could. there was never a question as to who could best honor jim's memory and legacy at an event like this. jim and sarah's longtime friend joe biden was the obvious person who could best speed to jim's public and private life. it is my great honor to introduce to you the bear's good friend and our vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause]
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>> my name is joe biden. i don't like twitter either. [laughter] oh for the good old days. my staff asked me whether i wanted a teleprompter, al. as the president said at one of the gridiron dinners, he said, i am learning to speak without a teleprompter, joe is learning to speak with one. i don't think jim would have ever put me on a teleprompter. folks, i only take one issue with what has gone on so far this morning. when the clergy stood here and recited those irish blessings, as the grandson of ambrose
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finnegan, i don't think any of those irish blessings were ones that jim would have been attached to. the one that i think he probably liked the most was the one that my grandfather ambrose finnegan used to use. he would say, may those who love us love us, and those who don't, may god turn their ankles so we see them coming by their limp. [laughter] that, to me, is a brady-ology. i don't know. all of these faux irish people out here, i don't know. [laughter] my mother had an expression, and it was real. she would say, joe, remember, you will be defined by your courage and redeemed by your loyalty.
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i cannot think of a better phrase to describe jim brady. jim was a national figure but we in delaware thought before he -- thought before he went to president reagan or governor connally, that he was delaware's property. i am told that jane roth may be here. judge, how are you? one of the best judges in the third circuit and a partner of bill roth the whole time. jane, i remember -- does remember when jim was bills mr. secretary -- press secretary. the thing that would startle you is that we like each other. for 30 years, without exception, there was never one time where a harsh word or public criticism
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of the other the entire time. that perplexed and when he first came. jim and sarah got me in trouble with my then young children. jim had always had bill doing something really exotic. i will never forget the time that they were doing the kemp-roth bill. jim got bill on top of that elephant. remember he was riding that elephant? my daughter looks at me and says, daddy, why can't you be like senator roth? gail, thank you for that introduction. scott and missy, i know -- i'm sure you appreciate all the love that your father engendered but i know it is hard to sit here and -- i know it is hard for you, sarah. we talked backstage.
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no matter whether it has been a week, a month, 20 years, 30 years -- when moments of the memorial come along, they are appreciated, but they create that ache. there is, in ireland, a tombstone that reads, death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, but love leaves a memory that no one can steal. this is both a reminder of the heartache and love, and i admire you, and the heart of all the bidens goes out to you. the poet rg ingersoll said when
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the will defies fear, when duty throws the gauntlet down to fate, when honor scores to compromise death, this is heroism. jim brady was heroic. it was all the things that everybody said, but to me, jim brady was simply heroic. life dealt him a really cruel blow, but the interesting thing about jim was, in the 30 years since that time, is that jim never compromised. jim was never ever defeated. he said back in 1986, you have got to persevere, keep a sense of humor.
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he said they could not shoot that away. and they never did. but he did not just persevere, he triumphed. and he did it with such dignity and grace and fierce determination. he turned tragedy in action. we always talk about that, you are either made better or worse but you never stay the same after some god awful thing happens to you. but what is interesting about jim is he turned it all into action. he not only reached out to survivors of gun violence, but he reached out to the disabled with a message of encouragement and hope on the road to recovery. and the reason why it mattered so much to them, and you could see it in their eyes, is because they knew that he knew, that he understood, and he literally helped heal, and he gave hope.
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when you are in jim's position, it takes a hell of a lot to focus on someone else's pain. a hell of a lot to spend the energy and time to communicate to other people that have gone through something like you have gone through, to stand up, to fight. and, sarah, i think it was al who said it. yours was a great love affair. we have all been around long enough to know when we see couples who are still couples, but every once in a while, you see a couple and you can tell it is still a love affair. it is not just they have grown used to each other, not just that they love each other, it is
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a love affair. that is a remarkable thing. what an incredible gift you gave to one another. what a model for your kids to know that that is how it was. you know, i don't ever remember, sarah, seeing jim without you after the assassination attempt. but, you know, the interesting thing to me is through a whole lot of painstaking effort and all of the frustration that you felt, the thing that is missing right now in washington, you are able to generate consensus and bring people together. i watched, when we wrote the biden crime bill that contained the brady bill, the assault weapons ban, the other things,
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and i would watch how you would both import to my colleagues in the hallway. they were scared to death to walk by you. if they saw you, it was like, oh, god, what am i going to do? [laughter] it was a pleasure watching jim work them, and i mean work them, and you standing there just so nice and forceful. none of the brady bill, despite all the help that you got from public office, all of it would not have mattered -- it was the
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one-on-one, bipartisan consensus that you pulled off. it was pretty incredible. i think the most remarkable thing about jim was that -- i cannot say the day that he died because i had not seen him for two months before that. the same remarkable man the day that he died that he was when i met him over almost 37, 38 years ago. as the old saying goes, there are two things you have to know about jim brady. one was that he was tougher than you, and two, that he was smarter than you. those were helpful going in. he had an incredible mind, but the thing that i loved about him most is he seemed more driven by his heart, as much by his heart as his mind. as i said, he never let up.
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he understood that it was really necessary to get important things done, to question the judgment of other people. but the thing that he never did which is done today, is he never questioned motive. the question judgment. when you question someone's motive, it is often hard to make that switch and then come with you. he never did that. he always left room for people to come around. as i said, he never let up. jim truly lived every moment that he was alive, even at the end. i remember talking to him once. a guy that he knew well too was ted kaufman, my administrative assistant, became u.s. senator. i was telling him once, ted, i saw a picture of jim with the pope.
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ted told me that there was a quote from pope john paul about going quietly into the night, adjusting to age, accepting god's will, etc. and i told jim, ted sent me this quote. i told him what i sent back to ted. i sent back when dylan thomas wrote. do not go gently into the night. old age should burn and rage of the closing day. rage, rage against the dying light. that is the thing i loved about the son of a gun. he raged against the dying light. never out of anger, but such incredible passion, born out of love. he cared too much to leave the
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fight to others, not even when he knew there was so much to do. the bullet of that would be assassin robbed him of so many of his faculties, as so many other victims of gun violence , but it did not rob him of his voice. more than 11,000 men and women in this country still need his voice because, every year, they fall victim of homicide, and they cannot speak for themselves. but to end his life with every breath that he took, he spoke for them and hundreds of thousands of others. because he knows we had no choice -- he knew we had no choice but to speak for those who were lost.
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the voice that spoke for a president, senator, the disabled, victims of gun violence everywhere, now speaks no more, but i think jim finally has some peace. i think he is waiting for you guys. there is a poem i love called the lake the industry. i will arise and go down to industry and i shall have some peace there. for peace comes dripping slow, dripping from the veils of the morning to where the crickets sing. there, and midnight is all the glimmer in new is a purple glow and the evening is full of linen wings.
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i will arise and go now for always, night and day, i hear lake water lapping down by the shore. while i stand on the roadway pavement gray, i hear it, that the deep heart score. i think he is waiting for you, i think he is waiting for those in this fight or so long with him, but most of all, his family. if my dad were here, scott and missy, he would probably look at you guys and say, you have good blood. you have good blood. it is my hope that we may all eventually, not in the too distant future, live up to the legacy and standard of jim, and finally get done what he worked so very hard to do. we have convinced the american people the last time out with a proposal i put forward through the president.
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the fight used to be, can you convince the american people? 75% of the american people agree with us. what we need is another jim brady who has the skill and the ability to convince those who are afraid to walk the halls of congress to step up and do what they know is right. one will come along. it will happen. i pray that it is sooner rather than later. sarah, god bless you, dear. to the kids, take care of one another, as i know you will. one thing is for sure, you know your father is looking down and wondering why the hell i talked so long. [laughter] thank you all very much, god bless. [applause]
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♪ ♪
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when irish eyes are smiling it is like a morning spring when irish eyes are smiling all the world is bright and gay smilingsh eyes are ♪ a springtime of light
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his sweetest of all ♪ ♪ when irish eyes are smiling springike a morning you can hear the angels sing when irish eyes are happy world is bright and gay are smilingyes
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they could steal your heart away ♪ [applause] [laughter] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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on the next washington journal, a discussion about same-sex marriage. for audit quality on the implementation of dodd frank financial ask. acts. live at 7:00 a.m. eastern. this weekend, on the c-span
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networks, former secretary of state: powell talks about world affairs. timberg talks about how a when my nearly changed his life. a surgeon and author on why he feels medical science should be doing more for the agent and the dying -- aging and the dying. saturday at 8:00, the king george's war of the 1740's. gaint helped colonists regional identities. and the testimony on the nixon pardon.
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find our schedule on and let us know what you think about the programs you are watching. e-mail us send us a tweet. join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. securityuse homeland committee held a field hearing near where the first ebola patient was diagnosed. they talked about how the case was handled. is onert of the hearing hour 40 minutes. discusse here today to a threat from the ebola virus and what is being done. the crisis is unfolding at an alarming pace.
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in africa,ave died and thousands more have been infected. including four americans working in liberia, who have been flown home for treatment. now, the buyers has begun to spread to other parts of the it is only a plane flight away from our shores. we witness that with the case in dallas. the first fatality from ebola in the united states. we must be sure to confront this crisis with the facts. blind panic won't help us stop the disease from spreading. fear mongering will only make it harder to do so. that is why we are here today. to answer the american people's questions, and get answers from the experts. americans are seeking assurance that our federal, state, and local officials are doing


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